On the 19th and 20th of August, 2011 the Institute for Rural Initiatives with the financial support of Global Fund for Children organized a two-days summer school for 24 Roma and non-Roma kids from the village of Zirnesti, Cahul rayon, Moldova. The general topic of the summer school was “Me and Society” where the kids had a chance to learn more about civic responsibility, interethnic friendly communication as well as develop skills on how to take pictures and how to film.
The school was organized in nearby woods of Badicu and Baurci-Moldoveni in Cahul rayon. A number of 5 Peace Corps volunteers (Moldova office) participated in the planning and implementation of the summer school activities. In the camp, the children took charge of their own education and fun. First, they made the site that they were using more clean by removing the trash. Staff made this into a game: each staff member chose a piece of trash, and applauded the child who picked it up after the activity ended. This competitive spirit definitely helped most of the activities through the day. After the initial cleaning, the children came up with rules for the camp with guidance from a staff member, and then voted for a president from their own peers to enforce these rules and to be their liaison to the adults. Votes were done with ballots, and the children were told to keep their votes a secret. They elected the only girl that volunteered as a candidate.
In between games, the children participated in activities that promoted leadership and critical thinking. In one activity, the children were asked to think about different forms of communication, such as verbal and non-verbal, and were given challenges to communication. Each of these activities was followed through by explanations from staff members as to how these communication problems occur in the world, and children were encouraged to think of their own situations where communication would be a problem. In groups, they came up with their own skit to show a problem with communication and possible solutions. All of the activities asked children to think beyond the norm, and there was always follow-through by the staff to make sure that the children understood why they were being asked these questions.
The theme of democracy and communication followed through the entire camp. At some points, the children were allowed to vote on which games they would like to play, or decide if they would like to try something new. At the end of the day, the children were given evaluation forms to fill out about the camp. Themes explored: democracy, communication, team work. Activities: magic trash, steal the bacon (this was called something else in Romanian – the game where, in pairs, kids would try to bring an object over to their side of the line without being tagged), telephone, charades, roleplay (skits), sport, rule-making.